Bharat Dabholkar

Bharat DabholkarUnconventional adman and undisputed king of satire Bharat Dabholkar is better known for his utterly…butterly…Amul advertisement. Besides advertising, he has also made his mark in theatres and movies. As he juggles between his varied roles, he has another important role to play – his family which includes his four smart dogs and a sensational cat. In conversation with Gauri Keskar, Dabholkar expresses love for his pets…

All of us know that very special feeling of coming home to a dog.

The incessant wagging of tail, the licks, the complaints, and the undivided attention you get. Well, now imagine coming home to four big dogs, all of who, want your attention at the same time and a cat who also sometimes thinks that he is a dog! That’s exactly how adman Bharat Dabholkar is greeted by whenever he walks in home. Bharat Dabholkar, who is well-known for his quirky ‘Amul’ advertisements and an ensemble of topical plays like ‘I Love Bombay,’ ‘Monkey Business’ and the extremely popular ‘Bottoms Up,’ is also a passionate animal lover. His pets, he says, are a part of his family and at present he shares his home with a pair of Siberian Huskies called Wolf and Kali, a Chow called Mufasa and the oldest yet the most wise Osho, a Bull-dog. There is Voodoo, the Persian cat, who in a typical cat fashion, spends time with the owner and his extended dog family, as and when he deems it fit to! The first thing that came to my mind was how do all of them manage to co-exist with each other! But that doubt was firmly laid to rest as I walked into Dabholkars house which closely resembles a tree house built on stilts!! It was like walking into a different world. All around the house runs a wooden veranda, which is where I met the dogs lounging around and enjoying their view from the top. They looked like one big happy family, relaxing and enjoying their morning time with one another. Whereas Wolf, Kali and Osho greeted with wagging tails, Mufasa, the Chow wasn’t at all impressed by me. He sniffed me around, barked a little and then turned around and walked off inside the house to sit on his own. “All the dogs have their own distinctive personalities. While Wolf, Osho and Kali are the more gregarious ones, Mufasa is a complete introvert. Other than immediate family, he doesn’t interact with anyone else,” explained Dabholkar. As I looked around fascinated, Kali darted towards Dabholkar and demanded to be petted. “Kali is top dog. She oversees all the canine activities in the house. Osho, the oldest one is not very agile like all the rest and is sometimes ignored by his younger dog family but Kali makes sure to spend time with him every time he feels left out,” he added.

So how have his dogs affected his life? His home, he says, is completely ruled by the dogs (and that is quite obvious!!). The entire household chores are centred around their needs! He recalls the time when Osho was the only dog in the house and would accompany him to the office everyday, so much so that he had become the office mascot and also played a part in his play called ‘Circus.’ Every time he would come in for the shows of the play he would want to sit on one of the chairs in the make-up room and absolutely refused to sit on the floor to a point where one of his co-actors would have to vacate a seat for him!! He was a favourite of the audiences and got a standing ovation at the 100th show which coincided with the day he became a father of 8 pups!

So when and how did his association with dogs start? He says that he has had dogs all his life. From his first dog Poppy, a mixed breed, which he got while he was in school to Furher, yet another mixed breed, to Mafia and then Satan (both Boxers) and of course the four canines he has right now, it has been one topsy-turvy but a fun ride. Each one of them, he reiterates, are very dear to him and growing up would definitely have been much less fun without them.

As I left Dabholkars house that morning, I turned around and saw the four dogs standing on the verandah almost waving at me. I couldn’t help smiling at how happy they looked together and how well they were looked after. Well, I now truly believe that it is a dog’s life, after all!!

Priya Dutt

A social worker, a politician and an avid animal lover… Meet Priya Dutt, who is owned by her pet dogs Prince and Mauzer. In a tête-à-tête with Gauri Keskar, another enthusiastic dog lover, Priya shares some happy moments.


Priya DuttOne dog lover always recognises the other. There are these tell-tale signs, like for instance-constantly trying to steer conversations to dog related topics, slowly but surely talking about their own dog, referring to their dogs as their babies, and the list goes on and on. It’s a sort of kinship between us, dog people. We immediately ‘sniff ‘ each other out. That’s exactly how I remember Priya Dutt, the first time I met her. Me and my partner Urmila run TailWaggers, a pet salon for dogs in Mumbai. Five years ago, Priya had got her baby, Prince, an adorable Golden Retriever, to the salon for the first time. She wanted to get an oil-massage done for him and basically wanted him to have a good time getting pampered. We got talking, and then came the tell-tale signs I wrote about earlier-she didn’t want to leave him alone even for a single minute, she was constantly petting him, talking to him, and he of course had eyes only for her. It was clearly obvious that the two of them shared a really special bond.

Priya Dutt needs no introduction, daughter of the dynamic late Sunil Dutt, she herself has recently entered politics and currently is a Member of Parliament. She has been known to be actively involved in social work and began working alongside with her father almost ten years ago. She is also one of the trustees of the One Tree Foundation, started by her husband Owen and his partner, and has also played a part in initiating The Tiger Team Foundation focusing on our national animal which is highly endangered, the tiger.

With so many milestones to achieve and so much to do how does she find time to spend with Prince?  To that, she replies, “Prince came into my life quite by chance, eight years ago, when he was just a tiny little ball of fur. I had agreed to baby sit him for my brother. At that time, I was going through a very confusing and difficult time both career-wise and personally and the arrival of Prince completely changed my life. He almost helped heal me and to me he is like an angel and my closest and most unconditional friend. So, no matter what I do, he will always be an integral part of my life.” Prince has been her companion through all her highs and lows, through her marriage, her father’s untimely death, the beginning of her political career, the birth of her son Siddharth and so on. She says, “The first time Prince and my husband Owen met, Prince just sniffed him around and wasn’t too interested but one fine day, I guess, he realized how special Owen is to me and he completely accepted him as a part of the family. Not only that, Owen and Prince now share a great relationship which is completely independent off me.”

So how did she introduce Prince and Siddharth to each other and to that she says it was absolutely natural and simple. Prince instantly knew Siddharth was family and he just came up to him and licked his feet and the two of them now stay together with absolutely no problems. Prince checks on Siddharth two to three times a day and makes sure he is doing ok. When I asked her whether she was apprehensive about Siddharth, being just a baby, and Prince staying together, she replies in the negative and says that children grow up better with pet animals around. “ It teaches them to co-exist and develop tolerance and respect towards other species from an early age.”

She and Owen have recently got a Siberian Husky called Mauzer. So how has Mauzer adjusted with all of them. To that, Priya says, “Mauzer and Prince are very different. Prince is very calm and Mauzer on the other hand is quite a handful. He is very playful and hyper but also extremely affectionate in his own way. Every time I come home, he wants to beat Prince at greeting me. So often there is quite a commotion. Initially it took all of us some time in getting adjusted to him but now every one has learnt to happily co-exist with each other.”

So has she always had pets… “I had a Pomeranian called Kalu when I  was growing up and I was very attached to him. It completely broke my heart when he passed away and after that, I wasn’t allowed to keep dogs for a long time.  Prince came into my life after a gap of ten years which is also why he is so precious to me.”

She also adds that she thinks it is very important that people think very clearly before taking a decision on getting a pet home, since along with its up sides, it is a big responsibility and should not be taken lightly.

As Priya happily poses for a picture with Prince, I remember the time, a few months ago, when she had opened her heart and home to a very sick and old, three-legged abandoned dog called Jackie. She had asked me to come along with her to the veterinarian to get him treated. He was very weak and could barely stand. She was constantly petting him and saying soothing things to him. She took him home and after a few weeks when he finally passed away, she was inconsolable. And all this was during the time she herself was six months pregnant. Having compassion for fellow creatures is the greatest gift one can have. With more people and politicians like her, this world would certainly be a better place!

Arjun Rampal

Arjun Rampal and Mehr Jessia need no introduction to our readers. Miss India 1986 and the ‘Only Vimal’ girl Arjun Rampalfor many years, golden girl Mehr is the name behind Face One, her well known modeling agency. Hunk Arjun Rampal has been scorching the ramp since he was 17 and doesn’t look like he is tired. Atleast the hundreds of petite nymphets who’d die to be with him, agree and he has soared to greater heights with many Bollywood movies, his debut movie being Pyaar Ishq Aur Mohabbat.

Arguably Mumbai’s most good-looking household is home to the couple’s two adorable daughters – Mahikaa & Myra, and two lovely pets – Tyson & Demi, a pair of Boxers. We dare say that the good looks and intelligence is showing off on these two furry wonders!

We got a rare opportunity to have a friendly chat with them about their pets, excerpts of which we publish here for our readers.

Arjun says “I’ve been a pet lover since my childhood.” He remembers his horses from school days at Kodaikanal at a boarding school. “I used to talk to them while riding – it was like we were communicating,” he says.

One of the early pet dogs that he remembers was his cousin’s German Shepherd, a dog who was loved and pampered by the entire family, so much so that when they lost him, they even had a cemetery built for him. “I used to spend my summer breaks with him and was really shattered when I lost him,” said Arjun. Pets teach you maturity and this was the learning that he took from pets that has stood by him in so many years. “I am really happy that we have pets now and our daughters have lessons to take from them,” he feels.

Tyson and Demi, the couple’s Boxer duo have become an indispensable part of their lives. They treat them like their first-born children, and when God blessed the couple with two adorable angels, it was as though the family was complete. To make sure the dogs welcome the girls from day one, Arjun & Mehr decided to break the news to them in a special way as well. “I filled the kids room with lots of treats and let the dogs in, I also kept all their favourite toys there as well to give them a feeling that something good from today is going to happen in the house and that room will have something special. We were little apprehensive initially but Tyson and Demi made it all very easy for us,” said Arjun.

Arjun simply loves his dogs. He is a big admirer of his pets’ personality and treats them often, his pets love to sleep with him and share those cuddly cosy moments together, like kids they also ask for love and affection.

The couple also take the pets out for vacations and the most recent memorable one was a trip to Goa. “Adventurous! We all had a blast with the water, surf and so much of empty space that you don’t get in busy Mumbai,” they said. Arjun’s favourite pastime is to go out on a run with his Boxers. “I am athletic by nature, and in my profession, it’s very important to stay fit and look good and these runs that I steal with my dogs is sometimes the best part of the day,” he added.

And Arjun also always ensures that his pets’ birthdays are celebrated in a special way, he himself plans a great gala for them. Pets are special, he says, and blessed are people who have them. They teach you so much – especially understanding, love patience and communication.

He expressed concern about the way some people maltreat their pets. “Animals and pets are like children and unconditional love that they express is outstanding,” he added.

On responsible pet ownership, Arjun feels that all pet lovers and who have them should be very alert and aware of their feelings. “They communicate with you always and try telling you a lot of things. Treat them like your kids and you will see the response they return to you. I share an extraordinary affinity with my pets. What you experience with your pet
is very different to what any one will experience with humans. Tyson and Demi love us equally but maybe they are a little partial to our daughters but all in all we have lots of fun and have a gala time always with each other around,” he said.

Above all, Arjun’s really excited about the ongoing projects, which he’s involved with at the moment. We are sure his fans are too waiting anxiously for his muchawaited
movies, the big ones being Darna Zaroori Hain, Don and Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna.

Here’s wishing them good luck and hugs from Dogs & Pups!

Komal G.B. Singh

Having dedicated 16 years to National news, Komal G.B. Singh is an inspiration to many. In a tête-à-tête with D&P, she reveals her spiritual bonding with her pets who are Great Indian Dogs . “Komal’s caboodle’s” – that’s the name of her trio. Komal G.B. Singh has been in media and the telecasting industry for the past three decades. She started her career by acting on stage with Yuvani, later she joined newsreading for Doordarshan and recently has anchored events like President’s Fleet Review, Beating Retreat & National Film Awards etc. She is with the Board of Directors for NIFT, Fortune Institute of Communication, and also a guest lecturer at Jamia Millia National University (Hindi department) for communication.

How Angel came in our life…

Angel was named so because she truly is one, she came into my life at a time when, I needed strong physical and psychic protection. I was all alone in a three-storey house, when she arrived at my doorstep, bleeding, ill and insecure. She was a big dog who had obviously been thrown out on the streets by her previous owner. I took her to Friendicoes but she wasn’t taking ‘no’ for an answer. Her eyes reflected great love for me and somehow in one spark of a moment, I truly felt that she had been sent by God… and I brought her home and felt at peace.

How my family became complete…

Slowly, Angel endeavored to open an ashram at my residence, bringing in hungry, sick and destitute dogs. Before I knew, I had four dogs (Angel, Tulsi, Roxy and Kauwa) who had adopted me. I bond in spirit to each one of them and am certain our relationship goes back many lives. Their antics and idiosyncrasies would run into several chapters…… Beyond the joy and pleasure that each of them bring, there is a deeper level that we connect at.

More about my pets…

In terms of personality, all three are very different. Angel is very possessive about me, Kauwa is mostly with my mother who pampers him. Roxy is very happy-go-lucky. Kauwa being the youngest has been given the duty to watch at night by his pack leaders while they snore their tensions away.

Taking care of their needs…

We never eat until the dogs are fed. My mom is never so worried about me as much as she is about them. For us they are at priority and I love to personally feed and take care of them.

On pet vacations…

They go for a complete pet vacation when our whole family goes to Kasauli every year, where we have our ancestral properties. My dad’s Tata Safari is completely packed with them and their belongings. When we stop to eat, people often come to see them and some even ask me to take other stray dogs around that place. I really wish I could take them all but physically I cannot take care of more then three. The caretaker at Kasauli also loves them very much. The trio have a gala time there as they have a huge terrace for themselves, which is entirely fenced for their safety.

Crazy antics of my pet…

All three are always up to mischief. Kauwa has a fetish for footwear and would pick up one of each pair. I have a parrot named Coco who has picked up Kauwa’s name and so whenever the dogs are making too much noise, she screams out Kauwa’s name. One shriek from Coco and the dogs go running out.

On adopting strays…

I would like to correct that my dogs have adopted me and not the other way round (laughing). Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder, I believe that they are sturdier and intelligent. They know what to do and when. They are street smart and are suited to our Indian climate and environment. Personally, I would always love to adopt a dog who needs that kind of special care. Strays need to be loved and cherished since they are the “Great Indian Dog.” They need your love and patience to help them overcome their insecurities.

What my pets teach me…

My pets and I have a complete Karmic connections that extend beyond this life. Patience, perseverance, loyalty and courage are some qualities that they’ve taught me ever so unknowingly. We speak to each other in many languages and in canine dialects too! Most of all we speak to each other in our silence. We relate to at a level beyond words… I am certain that every creature that comes to my doorstep, has been sent for a purpose. I truly believe, as my parents put it so eloquently , that “Our dogs are truly God’s gifts to us.” And like all of God’s cherished gifts, it’s only natural that we love, nurse and nurture them with compassion, time and sincerity.

Tips for readers…

Treat them like a part of your family, they reciprocate in an amazing manner. It gives me so much spiritual satisfaction and strength as they bring in pure joy. Even if someone gives a stray a bowl of water everyday, it gives immense satisfaction. To give a few tit bits to a stray does not take much. My only plea is that in summers specially, please keep a bowl of water or any container outside your home for a thirsty dog. They only understand kindness and that’s all they require.

Kapil Dev

Kapil DevKapil Dev or Haryana Hurricane needs no introduction. He is one of the most admired cricketer, who has chartered the course of many a famous Indian victories. But, not everybody knows that besides cricket, Kapil also loves dogs and is always surrounded by a bunch of them at his home in Delhi. D&P recently met Kapil and his wife Romi Dev to know more about his love for canines. Captaining India to win the Prudential World Cup in 1983, Kapil Dev is one of those renowned cricketers whose name in written in golden words in the history of Indian cricket. He is still actively involved with the game. He and his wife Romi handle the family-owned business and together with their daughter Amieya love the company of their pet dogs. Even though Romi remembers having dogs far back as her memory goes, Kapil only discovered his love for canines when Romi brought home two lovely Dobermans. Since then, there has been no looking back and Kapil has become a genuine dog lover. Today, his family consists of his wife Romi, his daughter Amieya and six cute-looking four-legged spoilt kids. D&P recently visited their home and Romi settled down with us to share their life with these furry angels. Excerpts.

Our first dogs…

After marriage, we did not keep dogs for 7-8 years as Kapil was hesitant. But, I could’nt keep away from them for long and literally forced Kapil and brought home two Dobermans named Don and Pachino. It was then that he discovered his love for dogs and he has now become an avid dog lover.

Life with Don and Pachino…

Don and Pachino were amazing and wanted love and affection all the time. Infact, people used to call them lap dogs. But, they were extremely possessive and aggressive with other dogs and did not allow us to keep other dogs. Don was gentle and caring but Pachino was a little brat. They were totally pampered and used to sleep on our bed. Kapil was so attached to them that whenever he went out to a party, he used to get food packed for them, which they simply loved.

Their crazy antics…

We once had a parrot who could mimic and he soon started barking. Don and Pachino would run all over the house, looking for the dog. The parrot even used to mimic Kapil and call Don and Pachino and they would run around looking for him as Kapil was their sweetheart! Our daughter and pets… Our family is animal-oriented and when Amieya came into our life, I was a little scared but Kapil was confident that the Dobermans will not harm her in any way. And, he proved right. They both stopped stepping on our beds but Don used to sleep near her cot but the moment she cried, he used to run away but Pachino would bark and bring either me or a help to her. Amieya literally learnt to walk with their help. They always supported her and never knocked her down.

How Don died…

Don was getting old and he must be around 13-14 years old when one day, I returned from work to find him lying motionless. Since he was getting deaf, I first thought that he might not have heard me coming and so did not respond. When I realised that something was wrong, I called up the vet who said that Don had only few hours left. I quickly called Kapil and he dumped everything to be at the side of his friend. He petted Don and called his name 2-3 times and within 10 minutes he died. Somehow, I feel that he was waiting for Kapil and that touched our hearts.

Life after Don and Pachino…

They left us three years ago with a void in our lives. Our lives seemed empty without them, so in just a short span of one month, we brought home as many as six dogs of different breeds.

Our present set of canines…

We have six furry canines and they have all settled into our family and are all aged between two-and-half and three years. The list goes likes this. Don is a Miniature Pinscher who is small but thinks himself to be the boss and is the best watchdog. He only lets Amieya touch him and does not even lets Kapil touch him. Dope is a Cocker Spaniel who always looks doped with dreamy eyes. We named him Dope because first time we saw him, he looked as if there is no tomorrow. Then, we have a Poodle named Puzzle who is always puzzled. Tomyum is a Shih Tzu who we got from Bangkok and is very naughty and our Shar-Pei has got a funny face and so Kapil named him Kaddu. We also got our Bulldog from Bangkok and Amieya named him Jaadu after she saw the movie Koi Mil Gaya. Kapil thinks that he is the fastest skipper in the family.

Life with six canines…

As pups, they used to run around everywhere and we had bits of newspapers lying everywhere. Each one is like a child and have their own typical character and habits. The moment I see the menace, I can tell who is responsible for it. Each one is cute in his own way and we will not trade them for anything. They are very happy and comfortable at home and get irritated when taken to our office. Whenever we are at home, we are surrounded by all six kids.

Any unique habit…

Dope has a very unique habit. He needs to have a face-to-face conversation with us atleast 4-5 times a week. For this, he will seat himself in our front and we have to talk to him and he responds back. Amieya and her friend carry on this conversation for hours on end.

How Kapil spends time with them…

Whenever Kapil is home, he takes out six doggy biscuits and give one to each of them. You can find these biscuits all over my house: in the kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, etc. so that he can pick them up wherever he passes by.

What they love about us…

They love our constant hugging and kissing.

What we love about them…

We love their loyalty and anything you do to them, they are always waiting for you.

On food and exercise…

We have a set routine for them and have assigned a person to take care of their daily morning, afternoon and evening walks. They are given one home-made meal and another meal of dog food. They specially love dog biscuits.

Tip for readers…

Don’t keep a dog unless you are sure. Love your dog as they are very sensitive and know when they are neglected. They crave for love and need a lot of physical and mental exercise. Keep interacting with them and love them.

Siddhartha Basu

Siddhartha BasuQuiz guru Siddharth Basu, the man behind the famous ‘Kaun Banega Crorepati,’ has made quizzing popular in India through his first game show ‘Quiz Time’ on DD in the eighties. From his jetsetting life on-screen, Siddharth still manages to find time for his loved ones, including his pet Sheru, a Golden Retriever. Affable and knowledgeable quizmaster Siddharth Basu comes from a background that covers theatre, radio jockeying and debating. His first show ‘Quiz Time’ on Doordarshan paved the way for other quiz shows on the small screen. Today, he runs Synergy Communications Pvt Ltd, his biggest achievement being the successful ‘Kaun Banega Crorepati’ show, featuring Amitabh Bachchan. His wife Anita takes care of the logistics of running and expanding the company.

Siddharth loves dogs but was unable to keep one in childhood. Anita also loves pets and wished to have one. Their wish came true when their daughter insisted on keeping a dog. Now, his family includes Shamsher Singh, fondly called Sheru, a Golden Retriever. The whole family loves Sheru and he has become an inseparable part of the family.

D&P visited Siddharth Basu’s house in Sainik Farms — Delhi, where we were greeted by the adorable, big and extremely playful Golden Retriever and it was beyond doubt that this beautiful being could be named nothing but a royal one like Shamsher Singh, in short Sheru. We settled down with Anita Basu, who lovingly shared the Basu’s family life with Sheru. Excerpts.

How Sheru came in our lives…

Both of us loved dogs but could not keep one for quite some time. Our life changed when our daughter Shreya came along. She was desperate to have a dog since the time she was a kid but since we did not have a garden at that time for the dog to move around, we did not keep one. We wanted our dog to have an enjoyable life, with lots of space to move around. So, when we shifted to our Sainik Farms residence, we adopted Shamsher Singh, a Golden Retriever. We fondly call him Sheru.

Sheru’s life at our home…

Today, Sheru is 1 year and 2 months old. He is golden to the very word of it. He is like a child to us. One of the things we strongly feel is his inability to talk. He can only convey his feelings through his body movements, so it’s double guessing all the time. Aditya never wanted a dog but now he spends most of his time with him. They just can’t do without each other. Sometimes we are surprised as how most of our dinner conversations revolve around him, “What he does? What he did?” Sheru has become a common bonding ground for our family.

What we love about Sheru…

Sheru is full of energy and it’s great for humans to have this “ball of energy” rolling all over the house. He perforces his energy on all of us, such is his energy level. And at the end of the day, he is like a sounding board. He responds to us intelligibly and passionately.

What Sheru loves about us…

All of us in the family constantly talk to him and play with him. He loves our company. We have a lot of understanding between us and hence I think he likes that all of us are always there for him, no matter what.

Any special incident…

Once while I was playing with Sheru, I injured my ankle and was in great pain. He sat by my side and was willing to help me in whatever way he could. Here, I would also like to mention that he kept giving me the look, “What did I do?” (laughed Anita).

Favourite activity together…

Playing with the ball. Retrieving is what he does best but never gives it back to us. We have to chase him around for the ball and he makes a whole new game for us.

Sheru’s adorable quality…

We love his gentleness and naturally loving nature. He loves to be loved and spreads love at the same time. He is friendly to everyone. Sheru has a great spirit of togetherness and believes that to be better acquainted, we should always share the same sitting place.

Any annoying habits of Sheru…

Yes, he never fails to chew ankles or any other part of our body. Something has to be in his mouth constantly for chewing and nibbling. He is very oral about his demands.

Crazy antics of Sheru…

Perhaps the funniest incident was one when Shreya’s maths teacher came to our home. Sheru wanted to sit with him and could not find much place for himself. The teacher was getting really scared because Sheru is so huge and was pushing him off. We could not help laughing when both of them fell down.

About Sheru’s needs…

When the dog grows with you, you make an unbreakable relationship with him, which is so strong that you start caring for him like your own child. Whenever he loses appetite, we get worried. His unhappy face makes us sad. We give him a proportionate diet, which his doctor Dr. Harab has advised.

Sheru loves to eat…

Like it goes for all dogs, Sheru loves “bones.” He also loves all kind of meaty stuff. Chicken is not his favourite but he loves a lot of meat. We feel that Sheru – the tiger, loves going for his kill. We also get him a lot of doggy kebabs and chew sticks, which he finishes in nano-seconds. The moment you turn your back, it’s gone. He is really fast at it. He likes his doggy biscuits also.

Tip for readers…

If you have a dog, then you should remember that you have taken a responsibility of a life and you should devote time, energy and treat them like another member of the family. They have emotions and are able to express them. Pets need a lot of emotional and mental support. They are very sensitive and we should give them lots of encouragement and support. Spending quality or just lots of time is very important since he is a part of the family. And one should not have a pet for guarding or just a “fancy breed.” One should be able to love him unconditionally at all times.

Kaizad Gustad

Kaizad GustadRemember Kaizad Gustad? Yeah, the same guy who shot into the limelight with Bollywood movies ‘Bombay Boys’ and ‘Boom.’ Kaizad is also a writer and a dog lover. He is happily married to Alexandra and their dog Attapatu completes their family. Kaizad and Alexandra both grew up on vast farms, granted, they were on opposite sides of the world, but shared the intrinsic nature of country living: fresh food, clean air, playing in the sun all day and even sleeping under the stars at night. But the most significant aspect of farm living is being surrounded by animals, both wild and domestic, and always having a pack of dogs by your side acting as loyal guardians, playmates and the best of companions.

As adults, they each moved to big cities around the world, until they met in London, got married and decided to make Mumbai their home. One thing that they both wanted was a dog, a large one, and in Mumbai, they had the space to keep one. For one year, they discussed breeds they liked, talked to breeders, and basically went back and forth on the topic, never coming to a final decision.

How Atta came in our lives…

On my first birthday in India, Kaizad surprised me with a trip to his home in Karnataka. It was a magnificently huge farm, with uninterrupted land sprawling as far as the eye could see. I finally got to see the trees, stone quarries and fields where my husband used to gallivant around as a child. And as we arrived at the house, both of us starving to see animals, we came upon the family dogs in the yard. One of them was a magnificent jet black dog with sad chocolate eyes that begged for attention. He was a half black Lab half German Shepherd mix, with the impressive size of a Shepherd and the sweet temperament and striking colour of a Lab. He had been born into the family, but we learnt that he was being given away the very same day we were leaving for Mumbai, to make room for the family’s other dogs. We looked at each other and wondered if we were meant to rescue this dog and add him to our own family. Coincidentally, his name was Alex, which is my name, and it was as if fate was telling us that this dog was supposed to find us. We agreed to take him, or rather, he made sure that we took him, and off we went with our new baby back to the city. Of course, changing his name was a must, as we couldn’t have two Alex’s in the house. So from then on, we called him Attapatu (fondly called Atta), after the Sri Lankan cricket player whose sweet sounding name always made us giggle.

Atta adjusts to city life…

Remarkably, Atta adjusted beautifully to city life. We soon realised that he did not need a farm to run around on, this dog survived better on constant supplies of love and attention. And we made sure that he got plenty of that!

Life after Atta in our lives…

For the past year, Atta, Kaizad and I have lived as if we never knew what life was like before we all came together

Spending quality time…

I spend the day with Atta. He sometimes accompanies Kaizad to his office. But, whenever Kaizad comes back from a busy day at office, he plays with him.

About Atta’s needs…

This pooch is eating us out of house. He gets 1 – 1.5 kg of food per day, but we just adore seeing him so healthy and happy. He is walked twice a day to keep him fit. What Atta loves… He and Kaizad play football, and Atta has become a stellar defensive player. Our daily games and jaunts are always eagerly awaited by all three of us. They also love to wrestle.

Atta on vacation…

We take him everywhere we go; he’s the most well-travelled dog in India for sure. In fact, our number one requirement for vehicles in the past year was whether or not they have enough space for Atta to travel comfortably! So far, we have travelled with him to Gujarat, Rajasthan, Delhi, Uttranchal, etc.

What Kaizad loves about Atta…

He is a real man’s dog. He does not want to be cuddled all the time. He puts his head in our laps for 5 minutes and let us cuddle and kiss him for that time only.

What Alex loves about Atta…

Atta is an incredibly sweet companion.

What he loves about Kaizad…

Atta loves and adores Kaizad. If Kaizad is angry with Atta, he wilts like a dying flower. They have a very special bond.

What Atta loves about Alex…

I take care of all his needs and he appreciates me for that.

Any annoying habit of Atta…

None, he is really an angel.

Atta needs our company…

If either of us is not with Atta, he becomes depressed and does not eat or play. He keeps lying on the floor and waits for us to come back.

Tip for readers…

Be careful of ticks and the damage they can do.

On a last note…

He has brought so much joy into our lives that we are interminably grateful that he adopted us as his parents. He makes our family complete. Kaizad likes to remind Atta of how much we spoil him by singing, ‘I wanna be my dog, but my dog you see, he doesn’t wanna be me….’ You never know, one day Atta might be the next big star in a Kaizad Gustad film!

(As narrated by Alexandra)

Shahnaz Husain

Whenever you think of herbal products, what name naturally comes to your mind? The answer is simple: Shahnaz Husain. She is perhaps the first one to use herbal extracts as a cure and an answer to the human need to acquire and preserve beauty. Inspite of being a very successful and busy businesswoman, Shahnaz is deeply associated with her four-legged members of the family and loves to spend time with them.

Shahnaz HusainShahnaz Husain, better known as Beauty Mogul, is imbued with a burning desire to recapture India’s great herbal heritage. She is a woman obsessed with a passion for beauty and a vision that knows no bounds. Her beauty network poses a colossal threat to the synthetic ridden cosmetic world. Today, herbs are not a fad but an international trend. The Shahnaz Husain Herbal range was created as an answer to a human need, the innate desire dormant in every woman to acquire perfection, and to maintain it.

Crusading India’s ancient herbal heritage, Shahnaz believes that skin and hair should be maintained with the aid of herbal products. Today, Shahnaz Husain Herbal is the largest chain of its kind, which crusades the natural concept with ancient herbal remedies. It is constantly incorporating the latest advances in skin science, making it acceptable in the Western world also.

Shahnaz comes from a family of legal luminaries. She is the daughter of Chief Justice NU Beg, and niece of Chief Justice MH Beg, Chief Justice of India. She has represented India at the New York Beauty Congress, Monte Carlo Beauty Congress CIDESCO and CIDESCO World Congress. She was also the chairman of ITES International Beauty Congress in 1981 and vice-president of Independent Professional Therapists International (PTI) in 1982.

She has been conferred with various prestigious awards such as Flying Falcon Award by IETC, London, ‘Woman of the Year – Udyog Rattan Award’ and ‘Best Woman Entrepreneur,’ besides ‘President’s Gold Medal for Export Excellence’ and ‘Barbara Cartland Venus Award.’ These are just a few of the awards she has received, the list is endless.

Today, Shahnaz Herbal has achieved a global presence, with a dynamic woman to propel it…who has dedicated her life towards making others beautiful. It is little known fact that Shahnaz is an animal lover since childhood. At one point of time, she had squirrels too and used to love them. She also loved feeding all the dogs around the place she stayed. But, Shahnaz fondly remembers her dog Jenny. “A memorable experience in my life is ‘when Jenny came home.’ When I was a child, I loved Jenny, a Fox Terrier, who used to come to the same park, where we played, with her owner Mr. Little. On one such occasion, we found out that her owner was leaving for London and was looking for a good home for Jenny. We offered to take Jenny to our home as we loved her – Mr. Little was too happy to give Jenny to us. But tragedy struck on — once when Jenny was travelling with my father via train, he managed to run away from him at a station which was 2-3 stations away from home and got lost. We were all frantic with worry. My dad was also heart broken and did not have courage to face us as we used to pester him where Jenny was? After almost six weeks, while my father went for his morning walk, he found Jenny close to our home. Jenny had managed to find his way back to us but due to exhaustion and the panic he might have gone through, he couldn’t survive. That was really sad! After Jenny, we never kept a Fox Terrier but I would definitely like to keep one,” told Shahnaz.

Inspite of her jetsetting lifestyle, Shahnaz still finds time for her cuddly four-legged friends. Currently, she shares her life with ‘Coffee,’ who’s a darling little Pug. “I definitely make it a point and take time out to spend quality time with Coffee. I see to his food, nutrition and training needs and whenever I am at home, Coffee is always with me,” she said with a twinkle in her eyes. Shahnaz advocates that if one has a pet, it is one’s responsibility to take complete care of the little one as he/she is completely dependent on you. “They give us selfless love. The companionship they provide is incomparable. They understand you and accept you as you are. I find this quality in them very beautiful. As such, it becomes our moral responsibility to nurture them because they deserve the best!!!,” she added.

“My children are extremely fond of dogs, especially my son Samir, who insists on keeping 4-5 dogs at home but since we have a beauty parlour at our residence and some people might be afraid of dogs, we have to restrict ourselves,” told Shahnaz.

Samir is an ardent dog lover and ‘Dogs & Pups’ had a tête-à-tête with him on his love for pets. “I have always loved pets and have grown up with them. I think they are completely awesome because they just love you unconditionally, without demanding anything in return,” told Samir.

“My first memory is of a Samoyed named Dinky, then of an American Spitz named Snoopy and a Dalmatian named Pongo (of 101 Dalmatians fame). I have always loved Alsatians, Dobermans and Rotweillers. As a child, our domestic help and Dinky used to come to pick me up. One day, our help forgot to come but Dinky was there, just proving their amazing sense of timing,” he reminisced.

Currently, Samir shares his life with a Pitbull Hitler, who is very possessive about him, so much so that he does not like even if his wife Raabiya comes close to him. “Hitler really understands me and our communication is just amazing. Hitler is also very good at understanding an individual… even better than me! I sometimes now judge a person by Hitler’s recommendation!” he laughed. Samir further added “It’s a tough task in the evenings to manage my dog and the family. Raabiya is scared of Hitler and she sits at a safe distance from Hitler while travelling in car and also while walking too, so much so that – once we were approached by a person, who with concern asked – Is the woman following you in CBI? I had to reassure him and tell him that she was my wife and only because of my dog she was keeping her distance!!!” Samir’s daughter Husna, however, loves to play with him.

“Hitler loves his massages and looks forward to getting them. He looks simply adorable at that time. He also loves his treats. I really love to play and mentally stimulate him. Hitler loves tug of war. He also loves chews and can finish them in a matter of minutes. Hitler loves fruits too. He loves to drive in my Pajero, where a guard sits at the back with him,” told Samir.

“My dream is to have my house full of 4-5 pets all the time. But since, we have a parlour at our place, so we have kept our pets at our farmhouse in Haryana,” he told. With a twinkle in his eyes, he added, “Here after 6.30 p.m., when the parlour shuts, I am free with my pets!!!”

“Currently our lives are enriched by Dachshund, Basset Hound, Pug, Pitbull and Great Dane. My mom likes small dogs but I like the big ones,” said Samir. “As a child, I once took my Great Dane to the market and somehow forgot their strength. While stepping into a shop, I chained my Dane to an empty rack outside, expecting him to sit and wait for me patiently. Suddenly, there was a lot of commotion outside and the next thing I saw was my Dane sprinting away and behind him was the rack which was making loud noise. It took me a while before I caught hold of the situation and calmed my darling Dane’s nerves. One must never underestimate the strength that a Dane possesses!” told Samir.

Samir is very passionate about the issue of Pitbull mauling in the US and feels that most of the time, it is the people who are at fault who train the dogs for wrong activities.

“I have always been involved in taking care of my pets, including their health and nutrition. I really feel about issues like how people treat animals. We should have some measures where we can keep a control and save animals from any kind of cruelties or miseries,” he added.

“A lot of people take puppies because they look cute and don’t realise that this lil’ puppy will grow up. So, I strongly feel that before anybody makes a decision to keep a dog, they should carefully evaluate if they can take care of him. Another thing what I feel is that one must never gift dogs – if somebody wants one, they can carefully make the decision and get one,” concluded Samir.

So, here’s a family where love and compassion for dogs probably is in their genes.

Anna Singh

Anna Singh is one of the most wanted designers in the film industry. She is a costume designer, stylist, fashion designer, columnist for a website, and image consultant, who began her long trek to fame and fortune at a young age of 19. Her sweethearts Einstein and Boy keep her company all the while. Dogs & Pups met Anna Singh to know more about her love for her furry darlings.

Anna SinghAnna Singh’s first film as a dress designer was “Khatarnak” where she dressed Sanjay Dutt and Anita Raaj. She has already worked for over 550 films and has dressed the biggest stars in Bollywood. She even designs costume jewellery, which she feels, is a trendsetting idea. Anna only uses semi-precious stones, crystals and beads set in polished or treated silver.

Anna Singh was not a born dog lover. Her first acquaintance to dogs was six years back, when incidentally she met Einstein, a Lhasa Apso puppy at a movie shooting and she fell in love with him at first sight. That day changed her and Einstein’s life forever…

How Einstein entered her life…

I happened to go to the sets of a movie, starring Jackie Shroff and Govinda. There, Einstein landed as an actor. He was the most adorable being I had ever seen in my life. Incidentally, Einstein put his face into my lap. I wanted to touch and hold him, but I didn’t know how to do it. Anyway, I left the shoot and came back. In the evening, Mr. Khan called me and asked me to look for a home for Einstein. Impulsively, I offered to keep him. Since I never had dogs, I called my dad. To my surprise, my dad did not object. So, Einstein came to me in a red basket. It was the best gift that I ever got.

The bonding grew…

When Einstein came, it took me a while to lift him and hold him. The next morning was panicky as Einstein threw up. I was very upset and my friends were surprised to see me so worried. I called up my vet and best friend Dr. Karkare at six in the morning and started crying, saying that Einstein is going to die. He said that I am over-reacting and assured me that it is absolutely normal. For the first month, my dad did not like him but now, Einstein eats from his plate only. Today, Einstein is my dad’s buddy and my first love.

About her pets…

I share my life with Einstein and Boy (Einstein’s son). They are very possessive about me and vie for my attention. They wake up with me and together we do our stretching exercises. They have their food with me at the dining table. It is a treat to see them gulp their food. My work involves use of lots of fabrics and my dogs simply love to roll over them. Whenever a new fabric comes, they are the first to inspect it. Also, when I happen to wear a saree, Einstein rolls over it, leaving behind strands of soft hair. Whenever he is with me, nobody can dare touch him. He has participated in lots of dog shows and has also won thrice. Though Einstein is a spoilt brat, Boy is an adorable darling. Anybody can carry and love Boy. He even sleeps with my dad. I miss them when I go out. While travelling, I ensure that I speak to them through a speakerphone.

On food…

We give them rice with chicken mince. They also have Marie biscuits in the morning. They also love vanilla ice cream. Whenever we order food from outside, we order two courses of no-salt, no-spices chicken kebabs for them, which are devoured even before they are opened.

On their exercise…

Both the dogs go for a walk thrice a day. Einstein also goes for a drive. Boy is basically an indoor guy and we have to literally push him out for his walks.

On their birthdays…

We love to celebrate their birthdays. We pick up loads of goodies not only for them but also make small packets of food to feed all the strays in the area. We remember that once we drove for hours together to find dogs for feeding.

She dreams…

I dream to have atleast 7 dogs.

Why they are perfect…

Human beings are connected to each other on a give and take basis. It is very important that we have these superior beings around us to get in touch with our own humanity. They teach you selfless love.

Nafisa Ali

Former Miss India, national swimming champion, socialite, model, actress, social worker and….yes, a dog lover! Dogs & Pups met Nafisa Ali who is also the wife of celebrity polo player Pickles Sodhi.

Nafisa-AliNafisa has been a dog and nature lover all her life. Quite like she says, “I grew up amidst animals,” “From the earliest time I remember, we’ve had pets.” “There were dogs, I love them and we also had ducks, they were so cute,” she sighs! In her own patented Nafisa style! “We’ve also had a whistling teal who was the friendliest little thing I ever knew.” Nafisa manages to keep both her active social life and spend lots of time with her 4 dogs- Sunshine, Mischief, Amber and Macho .

She runs an NGO called Action India, which focuses on the AIDS issue. She even made a documentary on people suffering with HIV positive, which was highly appreciated. She is also a member of children’s welfare organisation. Here’s more to the starry Nafisa and her love for her pets :

About her pets

I’ve always had pets. Simba, my first dog, was the sweetest and the most docile of them all. He used to even let kittens and little ducklings sit on his head! Such a darling! Currently, I have four dogs. The eldest among them is Sunshine, who is 11 years old. She is very possessive and does not like if I pay attention to the others. Then I have Amber who is 8 years old. Mischief and Macho are both 4 years old. I once happened to be a chief guest at a dog show and saw a little pup, a Russian Pekingese. I fell in love with him and quickly made up my mind to take him home. The same day my son saw Mischief, shivering in the cold, thus both Mischief and Macho completed our family.

And why she recommends pets

I think pets give us a sense of belonging, inner peace and security. Security not in the form of a watchdog but a sense of warmth. They teach us responsibility, love and care.

On children and pets

I feel very sad when parents don’t let kids handle pets or go close to them – it’s their insecurity and they pass it on to the children. It’s very sad. Only when we let them enjoy nature, will they realise their social responsibility towards our pet friends. And I think that it is very important that children grow up with pets as they teach co-dependency, interaction and support. Since childhood we at least had four dogs in the house.

On female dogs

Not because I’m a feminist, but I rubbish the fact that female dogs are tougher to maintain and think it is totally a myth and nothing else. I rather not have male dogs all over, marking their territories all around. I normally prefer female dogs as they are gentler and sensible.

On food

We feed our dogs basic roti and milk, but they get keema and vegetables most evenings. I love feeding them. They simply gorge on food.

And the dogs are…

Definitely mine. See them get instantaneously jealous if I pat one and not the other. They all vie for my attention – specially Sunshine.

To the readers

Love a pet. It’s a great feeling. Try to understand them and I’m sure you’ll all understand yourselves and your near and dear ones much, much more.